The Whistleblower Case All Australians Need To Know About: Nick Xenophon

Kieran Adair

July 21, 2020

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The Government’s prosecution of David McBride, the whistleblower behind the ABC’s Afghan Files, is a case that all Australians need to know about.

David McBride was a Major in the Australian armed forces, his job was to ensure the army was adhering to legal and ethical standards.

While serving in Afghanistan, he became aware of a serious, systemic issue in our defence forces: the unlawful killing of civilians, unarmed adults and children.

He took this information to his superiors – including Major General Hurley, who is now the Governor-General – and was ignored.

He then went to the Australian Federal Police and made a formal complaint – that was ignored too.

He then went to Canberra, and raised the issue with senior politicians, telling them that there was something seriously wrong and they needed to investigate.

Arresting The Messenger

Well, three and half years later, he finally got a response – when the Australian Federal Police raided his home and charged him for leaking that information to the media.

Instead of acting on the serious concerns he raised, the Government has charged him for breaching national security laws. He now faces life in prison.

He admits that he gave the ABC information, but only because he exhausted all other remedies available to him.

The laws he is accused of breaching were originally designed for Al-Qaeda and ISIS – but they’re now being used against whistleblowers, like McBride, Bernard Collaery, and Witness K, that have revealed the wrongdoing of Australian Governments.

Let me give you the practical consequences of the National Security Information (NSI) Act, a powerful piece of legislation that is being used against McBride. We recently got to see the prosecutions brief – it was thousands and thousands of pages long, but 80% of it has been declared a secret by the Attorney General.

National Security Used To Silence Whistleblowers

We were eventually given just two hours at the Government Solicitor’s offices to look at these documents – two hours for thousands of pages  – and we couldn’t even take our notes back with us.

As his lawyers, we’ve not even had an opportunity to sit with McBride and view these documents – and when we do, we’re presumably going to have members of the Government Solicitor’s sitting in the room with us.

This is what an authoritarian state does.

From 2004 to 2017, not one order was issued under the NSI Act. But recently, they’ve been falling from the sky. How can that be? What’s happened? These aren’t cases against terrorists – they’re cases against decent Australians.

Here is a man who served his country with honour, someone that’s a good and decent Australian, and is now being dragged through the courts for revealing the Government’s negligence.

How is this fair? It’s not about national security – it’s about the Australian public’s right to know about crimes being committed in their name.

>> Contribute to David McBride’s GoFundMe: https://au.gofundme.com/f/50-years-in-jail-for-whistleblowing-on-the-adf

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Written By Kieran Adair

Kieran Adair is a reporter for Xenophon Davis, covering government accountability, civil liberties, and whistleblower trials. He has previously written for the Michael West, Guardian Australia, and Sydney Criminal Lawyers. Twitter: @kieranadair_

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